WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said it will wind down its popular "cash for clunkers" incentive program on auto sales -- and may do so as soon as early September, according to one person familiar with the matter.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sought to reassure auto dealers Wednesday that they would be reimbursed for discounts given to customers under the program. With weeks-long delays in processing reimbursements, many dealers have feared the program's $3 billion funding would run out before they received the money owed them.
LaHood said that within two days he would outline how the administration will end the program while ensuring all vouchers issued by dealers are reimbursed. "They're going to get their money," LaHood said.
When to end the program is a tricky question. The administration is closely watching the money remaining in the program, and expects there to be a surge in last-minute clunker deals once an end date is announced, said the person familiar with the matter. The administration wants to avoid having dealers agree to sales after all the funds have been used up, this person said.
LaHood had previously said he expected the program to last through Labor Day, Sept. 7. He declined to say Wednesday whether he still expected the program's funding to last that long.
Through Wednesday morning, dealers had submitted requests to be reimbursed for roughly 435,000 vouchers totaling more than $1.81 billion, though many of those hadn't yet been approved.